Pondering Social Marketing Purpose

February 10th, 2010 by Collin Canright

I am trying to figure out where most business-to-business companies land in the social media market, after a conversation with a colleague yesterday. I was thinking of a Brian Solis article I read about a month ago, “10 Stages of Social Media Business Integration.”

Solis lays out a continuum from observing, getting a social presence, responding by reacting, and researching to provide relevance and focus. I decided our firm was emerging into the fifth or sixth stages Solis outlines.

Stage 5: Turning Words Into Actions. The two tag words here are “empathy” and “purpose”; understanding in order to best connect and giving an audience something to believe in. I think we’re getting closer.

Stage 6: Humanizing the Brand and Defining the Experience. The tag phrases here are “humanization of the brand” and “experience,” meaning establishing a persona worthy of attention and directing traffic to a more dynamic, vibrant, and useful web and brand experience. Maybe.

I figure that’s about as high as most organizations go today—mostly because I really only understood the next level, Stage 7: Community, and I know most businesses have not developed truly vibrant social media communities, though I know some that have.

Solis uses the phrase “attention economy” in his discussion of the last stage, “Business Performance Metrics.” It’s a notion from mid-1990s internet discussions and the subject of a book that came out in 2001 and likely has more history than that.

It’s an interesting notion. Attention is scarce, and it’s the cyber currency that marketing communications and public relations are designed to bring in.

I have no grand conclusion on these matters, but am pondering a basic Stage 5 question that’s critical in an increasingly social marketing environment, in which all participants get increasingly more news from increasingly more sources that are increasingly more personal (as opposed to mediated): to what do you want your audience, customers, and market to attend to and why?

-Collin

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